The day a crisp dollar bill arrived in the mail

I’m used to getting Christmas cards this time of year, but they don’t usually come with cash enclosed.  Yesterday, however, I got a letter from Arbitron (“You Count in the Ratings”) with a brand new $1 bill folded into it.

“We are conducting an important study about radio and television,” read the letter, personally signed (well, sort of) by William Kerr, president of Arbitron Ratings. “We need your help to ensure the quality of our research. We’ve enclosed a thank you gift. This thank you gift is for taking the time to read this letter. … If your household is selected, we will send you an additional small cash gift!”

In case you don’t know, Arbitron has been in business since 1949, which happens to be the year I was born. I know because Arbitron told me (its launch year, that is, not the year I was born). The letter also says, “we are known worldwide for the quality of our research.”

And handing out cash, no doubt.  Kathy, who brought the letter to my attention, was triumphant. She hates polls and tells me every election season that they mean nothing. I tell her the average of all polls in a particular race actually does mean something.  I have yet to persuade her. (If you know my wife, you can understand why.)

Now she figures Arbitron’s $1 bill is proof that all polls are fixed.  I told her Arbitron isn’t really a polling company and, besides, most people can’t be bought for a buck. I’m sure I lost that argument, too.

Despite Mr. Kerr’s promise of “an additional small cash gift!”, I think I’ll let the phone keep ringing when Arbitron calls for my response.

But I do intend to buy a candy bar today.






About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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2 Responses to The day a crisp dollar bill arrived in the mail

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